Adventures in Peru, Chapter 15

Death to the Tyrant

The Inca Saga, Part 4

I have often been asked what became of Atahualpa’s judges. This is best ascertained by referring to that fascinating work, Prescott’s Conquest of Peru. A brief résumé of the closing scenes of these tumultuous lives may encourage some of my readers to delve into this fine classic, and they will be amply repaid for their trouble.

When Pizarro’s brother Fernando returned from Spain, after conveying thence the treasure collected for the Crown, he brought with him marks of the King’s high appreciation of all D’Almagro and Pizarro had accomplished. The latter was created a marquess, and the former was empowered to explore and occupy all the country for 200 leagues south of Pizarro’s territory.

When D’Almagro returned from his Chilian expedition he claimed that Cuzco was included in his jurisdiction. Pizarro refused to admit the equity of his demand, and backed up his opinion with a show of force. D’Almagro, nothing loth, tried conclusions with Hernando Pizarro, who then occupied Cuzco. Having taken Hernando prisoner, he next turned his attention to Alvarado, who had also refused to acknowledge him as Governor of Cuzco. Success again attended his arms.

Francisco Pizarro now took a hand, for D’Almagro extended his claims to include Lima. After protracted negotiations both parties agreed to retire to their own territories until the lands in dispute were accurately determined. D’Almagro’s men, however, made no effort to observe the terms of the treaty, so Pizarro advanced with a large force of men, and after a sanguinary encounter at La Salinas just outside Cuzco, defeated D’Almagro’s forces and took the luckless Marshal prisoner. Twelve days later the latter was garrotted by Pizarro’s orders.

Hernando Pizarro was commanded to return to Spain and explain the circumstances attending D’Almagro’s death. Before he set out on his journey he warned his brother to beware of the Men of Chile—meaning D’Almagro’s followers—but Francisco laughed his fears to scorn. The Court sent out Vaca de Castro to inquire into Peruvian affairs generally, so D’Almagro’s men hoped to get some redress. De Castro, however, suffered shipwreck on the way out, hence they determined to take matters into their own hands and remove the tyrant. Accordingly, twenty of them arranged to meet at the house of D’Almagro’s son towards the end of June, 1641, to arrange their plan of action.

One, fainter-hearted than the rest, revealed the plot to his confessor. The priest lost no time in acquainting Ricardo, Pizarro’s secretary, with the news. When the latter told his master, he laughed and said it was only a ruse by which the cleric hoped to secure a mitre. He, nevertheless, decided not to go to Mass on the appointed day. The arrangement had been to kill him on his way back. When the conspirators learnt that Pizarro had not attended Mass, they concluded some one had split on them. So they determined to carry out their programme without delay. Headed by Rada, one of D’Almagro’s officers, they rushed across the square to the Governor’s palace. The heavy iron gate of the outer court was open. Midway over the second court they met with the two keepers of the gate. One they struck down. The other ran back into the palace and gave the alarm.

Pizarro, who was in the dining-room with several friends, ordered Francisco Chaves, one of his officers, to secure the door. Chaves unfortunately attempted to parley with the assassins through the half-opened door. A sword-thrust was his reward.

Hastily brushing the attendants aside, Rada and his companions made their way to the room where Pizarro was, shouting, “Death to the Tyrant.” The Marquess’s half-brother Alcontura barred their entrance with two pages and three of his friends. They were soon desperately engaged, seeing which Pizarro rushed to their assistance. Just as he reached the doorway, Alcontura fell to the ground grievously wounded. Nothing daunted the Marquess wielded his blade vigorously and made his foes give ground. The respite was, however, all too brief; they rallied and advanced to the attack again. Rada, holding the dead body of one of his companions in front of him, made a violent thrust at Pizarro which found its mark. It pierced the latter’s throat even as he ran Rada through. Pizarro sank to the floor. Several swords were plunged into his body. “Jesu,” exclaimed the dying man. With his finger he traced the emblem of Christianity on the floor. As he bent his head to salute the Cross with his lips a shrewd stroke hastened his end.

After passing through various vicissitudes his remains were finally deposited in the cathedral at Lima, where they may yet be seen.

Pizarro was seventy years of age when he made his hurried exit from this vale of tears. He left behind him a son, who died young, and a daughter—the result of his union with Atahualpa’s daughter. The girl eventually became the wife of Hernando Pizarro, at the time a prisoner in the fortress of Medina. Hernando survived his twenty years’ “stretch” all right and lived till he had topped the century. Strong evidence this of the invigorating climate of Peru. In the reign of Philip IV. one of his descendants, Don Juan Hernando Pizarro, was created a Marquess and granted a liberal pension by the Government of the day as a mark of gratitude for the distinguished services rendered by his ancestors. Members of the family still reside at Truxillo.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 15

An Aztec Invitation

The Inca Saga, Part 3

The last of the Incas was Manco, second son of Huayna Capac. Shortly before his death, Atahualpa had caused Huascar to be drowned in the river Andamarea. Manco accordingly came next in the succession, and one fine day surprised Pizarro by calling upon him. He informed the Spaniard what his pretensions were and claimed his protection.

It suited Pizarro’s plans to listen favourably to the young chief; and so it came to pass that in the year 1534, he caused him to be acclaimed Inca, and placed on his head the scarlet fringe held sacred to the Emperors of Peru. This exclusive mark of royalty was made from the feathers of an extremely rare bird that lives in the mountains of the desert. Some naturalists profess to identify this bird with the Peacock Trogen of Colombia, but that in my opinion is a moot point.

Father Valverde officiated at the coronation, and said Mass. Pizarro’s act made a good impression on the Indians, who were really greatly attached to the House of Capac, and hailed with delight the restoration of the monarchy. The Spaniards, however, kept a pretty strict eye on Manco and didn’t give him much rope. He, after awhile, made friends with Pizarro’s brother Hernando, and showed him some of the Inca treasure-haunts. When they had become very well acquainted Manco told his friend that the famous statue of his father, Huayna Capac, fashioned in solid gold, lay hid in a part of the Andes accessible only to one who knew the secret paths.

Hernando rose to the bait and permitted Manco to go in search of the image, accompanied by some of his nobles. A couple of soldiers were detailed to act as kind of policemen. A week passed, and then Hernando realized that he had been duped. So he sent his brother Juan with a force of cavalry to bring the Inca back.

Twenty leagues from Cuzco, in the valley of Yungay, Juan met with the soldiers who had accompanied Manco. They told him the whole country had risen in revolt against the Spanish rule, and that he would never be able to secure Manco again, except at the point of the sword. Juan held on his way, however, till he reached the river Yucay, six leagues from Cuzco. There he found his passing barred by Manco, who had assembled a vast army of men armed with native weapons. In no wise daunted by this display of force, the Spaniards attempted to cross to the other side, but after losing a number of men and horses were obliged to return to Cuzco.

Manco and his forces followed them hot-foot, and finally shut them up in the city. Juan Pizarro and his two brothers, Hernando and Gonzales, put up a resolute defence for five months, and then were delighted to see many of the Inca’s followers were being sent home to attend to the land. Juan now made the bold resolve to sally out and try and capture Manco, who had his headquarters at Tambo. Under cover of the darkness he led his men to the attack, but found, much to his disappointment, the Inca occupied an impregnable position. The only side that seemed to offer the least chance of success was that next the river. Upon Juan directing his energies to that point, the natives opened the sluices and diverted the waters of the stream so that the Spaniards were soon in imminent danger of being drowned like rats in a pail. In the circumstances, there was only one thing left for Juan to do, viz. to get back to Cuzco as soon as he could, and thank his lucky stars matters were no worse. Shortly after, D’Almagro appeared upon the scene with reinforcements of seasoned Spanish troops, so Manco raised the siege, and, with his wives and followers, betook himself to the remotest fastnesses of the Andes.

For some long time the Spaniards were too occupied in quarrelling among themselves to trouble what had become of the Incas, and when at last they attempted to pick up his trail, found that it led to parts of the country only accessible by secret paths that were a dead letter to them.

Nothing definite was ever known of what became of the Incas subsequently. According to Indian tradition they held high court for many years in a great city, hidden away among the mountains. Here and there, one very occasionally meets with old trappers who assert that in their wanderings they have chanced upon this secret stronghold; but I am afraid one must treat these narratives as fairy tales, although I am fain to admit that for many years people refused to believe in the existence of the Aztecs. And yet I know men who claim to have had dealings with that mysterious race quite recently. As a matter of fact, I was invited to go and classify their cattle and supply new blood for their stock.

In the face of that, who shall say the Children of the Sun are extinct? Some day the riddle may be solved. Until then, one is entitled to keep an open mind. For my part I have hopes of finding the answer in Ecuador.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 15

A Spanish Adventurer of Obscure Birth

The Inca Saga, Part 2

It was just at this time that the eyes of Spain were attracted to the Southern Seas, in consequence of the exploits of Cortes, Balbao, and others. A Settlement had been established at Panama, whence several expeditions put out from time to time, hoping to discover the great Peruvian empire of which rumour spoke so highly—a land where the natives drank out of golden vessels and constructed their baths and household utensils of silver. After three or four abortive attempts Pizarro, a Spanish adventurer of obscure birth, landed near Tumbes in 1532, and made the most of the opportunity the fratricidal struggle between Atahualpa and Huascar presented him with.

He sought the first named at Caxamarca, and gave him to understand that he appeared as the ambassador of Charles V. of Spain, who as the Over-lord would be only too glad to see the quarrel properly adjusted.

Pizarro’s chaplain, Valverde, who subsequently became first bishop of Cuzco, took a prominent part in what followed. He called upon Atahualpa to acknowledge himself as Charles’s liegeman, and to embrace the Roman faith, the tenets of which he outlined.

The Inca heard him with ill-concealed impatience, and then addressed him as follows: “I will be no man’s tributary. I am willing to hold your Emperor as a brother, but the Pope of whom you speak must be crazy to talk of parting up lands that don’t belong to him. As for your faith, you tell me your God was put to death by the very men he created; but mine,” he concluded, pointing to the Sun, “still lives and looks down from Heaven upon his children.”

When Valverde heard these words he told Pizarro what was required was deeds not words. Thereupon the latter gave a signal to his artillery as previously agreed and set about making a prisoner of Atahualpa. The latter’s men fought hard and well for their lord and master, but their bows and arrows were no match for the Spaniards’ fire-arms. So, though they largely outnumbered the invaders, they soon had to own themselves beaten.

Atahualpa was kept prisoner in his own house. Although allowed the company of his wives and occasional intercourse with his nobles, he soon pined for liberty, and in hopes of securing it by playing on the greed of his captors, made the famous offer to which reference has already been made.

Pizarro led him to think that his proposal was acceptable; so Atahualpa gave orders that his subjects were to set about collecting the ransom forthwith.

Within a few weeks many massive pieces of gold plate and silver were brought in to Caxamarca. Some weighed as much as 50 lbs. to 75 lbs. Messengers sent to Pachacamaca to hurry up the Indians resident in that district, returned with 200 loads of gold, besides much silver.

Some idea of the rich store of treasure poured out at Pizarro’s feet may be gained from the fact that before Atahualpa’s men had half completed their task, Pizarro allocated to his own use 57,222 pesos in gold and 2350 marks silver, and in addition the great golden throne of the Inca, valued at 25,000 pesos. His brother, Hernando, got 31,500 pesos gold, and 2300 marks silver. De Soto’s share was 17,700 pesos, and 724 marks; while D’Almagro received 20,000 pesos gold, and his men 15,000 between them.

Pizarro was now for setting his prisoner at liberty, but the majority of the Spaniards were against that, and insisted on his being brought to trial. As is usual in such circumstances, the voice of the majority prevailed. The trial duly took place and Atahualpa was found guilty. The sequel I will narrate later on.

After Atahualpa had paid the death penalty the Indians broke out and plundered the temples and palaces of all their treasures. These they buried in caves in the fastnesses of forest and mountain, so that they should not fall into the hands of the Spaniards.

It is generally believed throughout Peru and Bolivia that some of the Indians know where the great bulk of this treasure lies hid; but the man who may induce them to reveal the secret has not yet appeared upon the scene.

Now and then some one is so lucky as to stumble across a small hoard, but what has been brought to light up to now represents only an infinitesimal portion of the wealth that was put in the safe keeping of Mother Nature.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 15

The Inca Saga

Part 1

About 500 years before the coming of the Spaniards is the date generally assigned to the institution of the great Inca Empire.

Manco Capac and his spouse, Mama Oello Huaco, then descended from the heights of the Andes and established themselves on the island of Titicaca. They claimed to be heavenly messengers from the court of the Sun, the great God of the Indians. The word Inca means Child of the Sun. The people received them with open arms, and they became all-powerful. Then little by little they extended their empire till it comprehended not only Peru but Quito also.

This vast dominion they administered in a manner that compels admiration. Proper cultivation of the land was insisted on, and, because the chief need was moisture, the rivers were diverted by means of aqueducts. Terraces were cut out of the mountain sides to carry these irrigating canals, and walls were constructed to keep the water from escaping.

Eventually they built Cuzco, which was looked upon as the capital of the empire and regarded with special veneration. Here may yet be seen the remains of the great Temple of the Sun. 20,000 men, it is said, were employed for fifty years on this magnificent structure. Manco Capac’s successors were deeply imbued with his wise ideas and under their fostering care the empire prospered exceedingly.

In the middle of the fifteenth century Topa Yupanqui, 11th Inca, grandfather of Atahualpa, led his armies across the desert of Atacama and extended the Inca Empire to the banks of the river Maule. His son, Huayna Capac, the best and most famous of the Inca chiefs, founded Quito.

One lawful wife, his Coya, or Queen, was permitted to the reigning monarch, and the sceptre descended to the issue of this union, but his entourage also included many concubines. As the representative of the Sun, the Emperor was also considered the Head of the Priesthood. He wore robes woven of vicuña wool and richly ornamented with emeralds. The court etiquette was very strict, not even the proudest noble being permitted to enter the Imperial presence without first removing his sandals. He had, in addition, to shoulder a burden in token of homage.

The Emperor used to travel sumptuously when he moved about from city to city, in a sedan chair ablaze with gold and emeralds. At convenient intervals he had rest houses erected along the principal roads. To this day they are known as tambos. They occurred most frequently on the royal highway that runs from Quito to Cuzco, and the remains of some may yet be seen.

The Royal palaces were magnificently constructed of stone, or porphyry, to withstand the convulsions of Nature to which this territory is subject. On the internal walls were carved all manner of figures, birds, beasts, flowers, and so forth, ornamented with precious stones.

One is enabled to form some idea of the scope of these ancient buildings by viewing the remains of the old palace of Callo, in Colombia. They form a square, each side measuring thirty yards and more. Eight rooms, or divisions, are still traceable, and four doorways, similar to those met with in Egypt. Perhaps they would be better described as gates. In each wall are several niches.

The favourite residence of the Incas was, however, situated at Yucay fifty miles distant from Cuzco, in a lovely valley, sheltered by the mountains and Sierras.

Wise men were deputed to look after the welfare of the heir to the throne, and it was their duty to see he was instructed in the art of kingship. His school companions were the sons of Inca nobles, each of whom was of the blood royal. A fringe of vicuña wool, bound round his forehead, distinguished the Prince from his young companions.

The Incas had an Order something akin to our ancient Order of Knighthood. When they had attained the age of sixteen years, the pupils of the military school were called upon to publicly prove their proficiency in wrestling, boxing, and running, to fast for days on end, and finally to take part in a series of sham fights that extended over thirty days. At the conclusion, those candidates deemed worthy were presented to the Emperor, who pierced their ears with a golden bodkin. One of the highest nobles in the land then anointed the candidate’s feet, bound on the distinctive footwear of the Order, and placed the sash in position round the loins.

When an Inca died, his entrails were deposited in the temple of Tampo, twenty-five miles from Cuzco. The body was embalmed and placed in the Temple of the Sun. Often gold and silver and costly jewels were buried in the tomb; and sometimes the royal concubines sacrificed their lives, to show their sense of loss.

The Inca territory was divided into three portions, one for the Sun, one for the reigning monarch, and one for the people.

Every man was required to marry at a certain age. He was then given so much land. Annually this grant was revised according as his family had increased or diminished. For each child an additional portion was granted, a boy being entitled to twice as much as a girl. All the common people had to work on the land. First they had to cultivate what belonged to the Sun; next that of the sick, the widows’ and orphans’ portions and those belonging to soldiers engaged on service. When these tasks had been accomplished, they were at liberty to attend to their own land, and, so that they should not idle over that, they had last of all to put the Inca’s land into proper fettle. The flocks of llamas were allocated in the same way. Only the males were killed, and grievous penalties attached to the killing of any female llama.

Every year the llamas were sheared; the clip was stored in public buildings, and distributed to each family according to their need. The womenfolk were instructed in the art of spinning and weaving. To-day the self-same methods are in vogue with the Indians of Peru and Bolivia.

All the mines were considered to belong to the reigning monarch, and were worked for his benefit, by skilled miners, who laboured in shifts. Out of the revenue accruing from this source the Inca furnished relief to the sick and poor all over his dominions.

Inventories were taken at frequent intervals in each district, of the various natural products, likewise a register of births and deaths. Copies were periodically forwarded to Cuzco.

Gambling and rash speculation were discouraged. Theft, adultery, and murder were punished by death, and rebellions were drastically repressed.

Under the enlightened rule of the Incas the people of Peru prospered exceedingly, and were content for a period of 500 years. Then the great Huayna Capac died. He was succeeded by his eldest son Huascar. Five years elapsed, and then Atahualpa, Huascar’s youngest brother, quarrelled with him and tried to wrest the kingdom from his hands. His initial enterprise proved a failure. His adherents were defeated, and he, himself, cast into prison at Tomebamba. Escaping thence he gathered round him a considerable body of men, and gave battle to his brother about sixty miles from the mighty Chimborazo mountain. Victory on this occasion rested with his arms, and again subsequently at Cuzco, where the final, decisive battle of the Civil War took place.

Atahualpa’s treatment of his brother and his followers was characterized by great cruelty. He ruthlessly slew the common people, and encompassed the death of the nobles who favoured Huascar’s cause by a despicable subterfuge.